RDI grantees, partners, and donors participated in a lively and fast-paced discussion on the 2023 Farm Bill. This important legislation is passed every five years, making its impact long-ranging and critical to bring resources to our rural communities. Our dynamic panelists shared how the Farm Bill impacts all of us, and avenues for action to ensure this year’s Farm Bill supports healthy food, a clean environment, and all rural people.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Farm Bill is a key framing and funding for how the federal government engages with/in rural spaces, we must ensure all components of the Bill benefit rural communities. Jake Davis of Local Root Strategies reminded us this legislation not only has agricultural priorities, but other USDA priorities such as rural development and energy.
  • The Farm Bill has the potential to shift power from corporate agricultural interests to local communities and regional food systems. Sarah Carden shared how Farm Action’s Four Pillars of a Fair Farm Bill — Food Not Feed, Justice For All, Build Local, Eat Local, and Conservation and Regeneration, will pave the way for farmers and workers to equitably access federal funding and resources.
  • Navina Khanna of HEAL Food Alliance shared how the Farm Bill is an opportune moment to address the climate crisis — farmers drive important climate solutions. She also spoke about how a Farm Bill that includes support for Black, Indigenous and people of color food producers will strengthen our food system and security.
  • Ensuring Farm Bill investments flow to rural communities will not only meet these economic needs but will accelerate growth and prosperity for these areas that are often economically stressed. Annie Contractor of RuralOrganizing.org shared original research showing what rural constituents want: decreased expenses, increased wages, and an improved quality of life. 
  • This is a critical opportunity in the fight against climate change. Erik Hatlestad of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) shared how recently created programs that comprise the largest investment to date for rural electric co-ops are at risk under the Farm Bill. A worst-case scenario is the Farm Bill reverses clean energy gains from the Inflation Reduction Act, one of our key policy priorities.


WAYS TO ENGAGE


Our panelists reminded us that the Farm Bill not only touches our food system but also our climate, environment, and livelihoods. Thus, investment in this work can be life-changing for our communities. The Farm Bill Webinar is part of RDI's work to give rural people the tools to make a difference in their lives and communities.